Celebrate The Byrds' Gene Clark With Nov. 16 Performance Featuring Members of the Byrds, Beachwood Sparks and More

Posted by Billy Gil, November 12, 2014 04:23pm | Post a Comment

November 17 would have been the 70th birthday of Gene Clark, founding member of legendary rock band The Byrds. Clark’s son, Kai Clark, has organized an intimate concert at Hotel Cafe this Sunday, Nov. 16, to celebrate the life of his father, featuring Kai Clark, Jangle Brothers (with John York, who played bass for The Byrds), Gospelbeach (featuring members of Beachwood Sparks), Carla Olson with The Psychedelic Cowboys, Bob Woodruff and more.

The show takes place from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., and tickets are $20. You can pick up advance tickets here.

The event also coincides with the re-release of Gene Clark’s long out-of-print 1977 solo album, Two Sides To Every Story. It’s out on CD now and comes with a color, 26-page booklet with photographs by Ed Caraeff from the album cover photo session and liner notes by John Einarson, author of Gene Clark biography, Mr. Tambourine Man. In addition, the CD comes with a download card with more than 90 minutes of exclusive bonus tracks, including a 1975 full-band performance. An earlier LP reissue of the album is also available.

Here’s what Kai told us about what his father’s music meant to him:

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Legends of the Canyon

Posted by Miss Ess, November 16, 2010 05:13pm | Post a Comment

If you're looking for an enjoyable romp through the late '60s/early '70s Laurel Canyon scene, Legends of the Canyon is the film for you. Photographer Henry Diltz narrates, and his photos and footage are used throughout, along with enlightening interviews with folks like David Crosby, Ahmet Ertegun, Van Dyke Parks, Michelle Phillips, David Geffen, Stephen Stills, Dallas Taylor, plus some great talk from Graham Nash, and many more.

There's an easy intimacy in the interviews, no doubt because Henry was involved in the process and he has known and been friends with these people for decades. Stephen Stills reveals how he was completely intimidated by Joni Mitchell, Michelle Phillips touches on how vulnerable Gene Clark was, Dallas Taylor talks about what made Graham Nash cry, and Graham Nash speaks of Neil Young's total devotion to the music, among many other stories. There's interview extras on the disc as well, a sweet inclusion.

What I Listened to Most in 2008

Posted by Miss Ess, January 1, 2009 04:23pm | Post a Comment
Since I write about what I listen to fairly often, this list may be a bit redundant, but consider it a happy round up! This is what was getting to me the most in 2008, whether it was released in 2008 or 1974, whether I'd heard it a zillion times before or it was something new to my ears.

Rodriguez - Cold Fact

Bonnie Prince Billy - Lie Down in the Light

Bobby Charles - s/t

Sun Kil Moon - "Glenn Tipton" from Ghosts of the Great Highway

Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers - "Islands in the Stream"

"Not Fade Away" in Its Many Mutations.

Posted by Miss Ess, June 11, 2008 06:06pm | Post a Comment
"Not Fade Away" is one of the best songs ever written: simple, direct, pleading, mentions a Cadillac in its lyrics...I mean, what more could you want in a song?

I had the great pleasure of witnessing a Bob Dylan show in 2000 from about four people back. It was incredible, and one of the highlights was "Not Fade Away."  I've pretty much been thinking about the song ever since then.

For Buddy Holly to write something so pure and so fantastically mutable, especially at the age of 21, is remarkable. He owes a debt to Bo Diddley for the beat, that's for sure! The song's been covered a zillion times over and each time there's something new-- whether it's Dylan's band's killer harmonies or Mick Jagger's haughty congas--  and "Not Fade Away" retains its greatness. Yeah, even in the Rush version.

Here's Dylan performing the track back on the same tour I saw him on with his kick ass band.  The sound quality's not the greatest, but I still think it rocks:

Now here's Bruce Springsteen, back when he was the hardest working man in show business, performing the song:

And of course there's the Stones:

Just cause I'm kinda a Gene Clark obsessive, here's The Byrds' version with Gene on harmonica...they pretty much just ape the Stones though:

Gene Clark - A Tragedy In Two Parts: Part Two - Mr Tambourine Man

Posted by Miss Ess, February 6, 2008 08:52pm | Post a Comment
Gene Clark is sort of a tragic figure. He is also one of the most complex, idiosyncratic rock stars I have ever read about -- I just finished Mr. Tambourine Man by John Einerson. Due to mental illness, addiction and over abundant sycophants, he died too soon and without ever realizing and enjoying his true potential.

Things started out triumphantly enough in the early 60s, with Gene being plucked from complete obscurity in Kansas by the New Christy Minstrels to be in their group. He toured with them for a few months before his fear of flying, among other things, forced him to quit the band. He kept Los Angeles as his home base and soon met Roger McGuinn and David Crosby and they began creating music together. Soon, The Byrds were the biggest American band in the middle of the 60s and they were creating the kind of songs that will be remembered forever.

Clark's time in The Byrds was truly the stuff that dreams are made of. He was a star literally overnight, able to buy a Ferrari and live on the edge. He became used to the amount of attention being a super star and the toast of the nation brought him.

Gene was the main songwriter in The Byrds at that time, with songs like "My Love Don't Care About Time" and "Feel A Whole Lot Better," which meant that he was earning the most money. The others in the band jealously undermined him, especially David Crosby, who convinced an insecure Gene that he was such a poor guitar player that he shouldn't play on stage anymore. Crosby told Gene he should sing and shake the tambourine instead. Of course, Crosby took over Gene's Gretsch on stage. The many power plays within the group eventually led to Gene quitting the band.

After The Byrds Gene worked on a solo album that is mistakenly titled and billed as Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers. He also worked and played hard with famed bluegrass musician Douglas Dillard. They put out two albums as Dillard and Clark-- The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark and Through the Morning Through the Night. Gene was into and helping to create "country rock" long before pretty much everyone else. Due to Gene's growing reputation as a partier who pulled extreme stunts, none of his albums received much commercial push or press. Gene could never stick with one label-- he'd always get kicked off due to some kind of incident like yelling at the executives, insulting their wives, canceling an important gig, etc.

It seems that Gene's life was fraught with bad luck, mental illness, mistrust and addiction. I believe from reading this book he was likely bipolar. He burned many bridges within the industry with his brash behavior, and gained a reputation of being difficult to work with. On the other hand, much of the time he appears to have been caring and affectionate, a real gentleman.  He certainly suffered from phobias and compulsions, including crippling stage fright. Gene is perhaps most famous for having a fear of flying. This stemmed from his witnessing a plane crash out on the plains of Missouri when he was a child. Gene would never speak about his phobias or ask for help. He never talked much to anyone about his internal feelings. He seems to have been an extraordinarily inward person who was both an erratic alcoholic but also genuine and well-loved. 

True happiness finally came to Gene in the late 60s and early 70s when he met and married his wife Carlie, moved away from Los Angeles to bucolic Mendocino and had two children. While he was in Mendocino, he lived an idyllic outdoor oriented life of rivers and ocean cliffs and whales, all centered around his rustic cabin. He wrote two brilliant albums there, White Light and No Other. Unfortunately, when he would return to LA for business, he would fall back into his sycophant crowd and feed his growing addictions.  This led to his divorce and losing his property in Mendocino.

Over time, while Gene continued to fight to make music, he lost track of who his real friends were and increasingly became involved with people who took advantage of him, of his perceived money and fame and who encouraged his ever increasing drug and alcohol addictions. His alcoholism led to dementia, tremors and an even more erratic, sometimes violent personality.

It's hard for me to even write this blog because there is so much complexity to Gene's life and it seems impossible to give it justice by writing a short piece. It's so far beyond all of that. I can understand why the author of Mr. Tambourine Man, John Enierson, was compelled to include so many interviews and so many sides of stories. The book itself is kind of massive and has small print, like he was really trying to jam it all in. At first this was a bit off putting, but in the end I can understand that grasping the many facets that made up Clark's life and influences takes more than a typical 150 page bio. The book was somewhat overwhelming though. It's a lot to wade through and the stories within its pages are often heartbreaking. 

Still, though Gene's life was often dark, the patches of light within it shone very brightly. Gene's songwriting has been admired by heavy hitters like Bob Dylan and John Lennon and he was at least able to communicate his deeply hidden feelings through song. He fought hard for his career and to keep doing what he loved, although he both sabotaged his own work and tragically could never truly step out from the shadow of The Byrds. His fascinating life's example ended up teaching me the importance of holding onto one's creativity, one's family, and also how vital it is to know the difference between a true friend and an enemy, and to recognize when that enemy may in part be yourself.

Here's Gene in the 80s playing "Silver Raven" from No Other:

And here's Gene with The Byrds in their heyday singing "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better":

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